Yesterday we were reflecting and being thrilled afresh that our God is a giver through and through. We know that the bible is absolutely clear that God is love. Sometimes however our concept and ideas about love are clouded by the modern expressions of love that seem to be more about what I can get from others and situations, rather than what I can give. As we reflected in Blog 232, 1 Corinthians 13, the famous chapter on love, brings us back to recognise that love is outward looking and outward focused onto those who are the objects of its love. Love gives and gives again. So the truths that God is love, and that God is the universe’s greatest giver, are all wrapped up together.
Today I think it would be good to build on the thrill of yesterday’s reminder of God the giver. Let us consider the word thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is giving thanks. Obvious –Yes! But think about it, at the heart of giving thanks is that you are giving something. We can unpack that!
First giving means it is a gift. Paying for your new washing machine is not a gift. Your wages at work are not a gift. A gift is freely given, it cannot be forced out of you, legally demanded from you or be part of a binding transaction. This is such a good reminder. As we travel on the road as Christians it is easy to get bogged down in what I ought to be doing as a good Christian and lose the joy and freedom of wanting to express myself by giving freely. Could this have been part of the loss of first love in Ephesus? Revelation 2:4. ‘Freely have you received, freely give’ Matthew 10:8.
Second giving a gift is an expression of love. After 8 months of reflecting on all sorts of aspects of thanksgiving, let us meditate on the fact that whenever I give something I am expressing love. So when you move in thanksgiving, recognize that you are expressing your love to the Lord. You are loving Him. You are telling Him that you love Him. It feels good and right to express your love and affection for people in your family and world. How much more so with the Lord. Allow yourself the pleasure of expressing your love to Jesus by giving Him the gift of thanks. ‘Thank you for dying for me, for taking all my sin, guilt and shame, all of it’. ‘Thank you for a clean conscience’. ‘Thank you for life, health, food, friends, family and so much more.’
Thirdly a gift involves a choice. I don’t have to give a gift of flowers to my wife, but I can choose to. I don’t have to thank Jesus for a cleansed conscience and peace, but I can choose to. And that choice makes the gift all the more special. When you or I choose thanksgiving we give the Lord something special. Sometimes when we give a gift and the person is pleased we say “Oh it was nothing really”. We are wrong. It was something, it was a choice, an act of love, a gift, and so it is to the Lord. Let us let our hearts expand with that. Consider Jesus’ response to the one leper in ten who chose to come back and give Him thanks. Luke 17:16.
And fourthly, for more expansion, who am I giving my gift to in thanksgiving? Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Well isn’t that marvelous? You and I have the power to shower gifts on Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They need nothing and are fully complete in themselves, yet we have the power, in giving thanks, to shower them with gifts on a daily basis. Of course any and every gift of thanks we give them is more than fully, richly deserved, and right, and only scratches the surface of what we have to thank them for. There is so much more to be grateful for than we are aware of, or indeed would even have time to say.
Nevertheless isn’t it wonderful that I can imitate our giving God and be a giver myself and shower Him with my gifts of gratitude? And of course the Lord is so generous and loving that our giving thanks to Him brings more blessing and life into our lives too.